IntroductionEgenis organised a film screening and discussion as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science
An audience of nearly 100 people enjoyed a post-Hallowe’en thrill by attending a free screening of Frankenstein at the Exeter Phoenix, followed by an expert-led discussion.
The Egenis-organised event was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. After the film, Egenis Senior Lecturer Sabina Leonelli and University of Exeter Professor of English Regenia Gagnier each spoke about some of the issues it raises in terms of science and society, to begin an audience debate, which was chaired by Professor Steve Hughes, Co-director of Egenis.
The audience watched the Kenneth Branagh-directed version of Mary Shelley’s classic tale, starring Branagh himself as Victor Frankenstein, Helena Bonham Carter as his fiancée and Robert De Niro as Frankenstein’s creation.
Professor Gagnier set the historical context for the writing of the story, suggesting that Shelley was exploring the opposition between the science that saves and the science that is a vision, a fanatical exercise. The ‘monster’, she said, is without society – is he super-human or sub-human? Download Prof. Gagnier's Introduction
Dr Leonelli said that the Frankenstein story is a particularly enduring one, which has been re-interpreted in many different ways. We can look upon it, for example, as an exploration of the role of science and technology in society, one which suggests that some knowledge is good for us, but we should be careful about going beyond the limits of what should be explored.
Among the questions addressed in the discussion which followed were: whether there was a deliberate opposition in the film or the novel of ‘normal’ human relationships with scientific endeavour; whether Frankenstein was right to pursue the science; whether his creation had a soul; and whether we should take from the work the message that to be created differently is a very dangerous thing.
Earlier in the day Dr Leonelli was interviewed on BBC Radio Devon about the event and why Egenis had chosen this way to participate in the festival.